Hanging on a wall in one of the most prestigious museums in Paris, is a painting no one will ever see.
It has a place of prominence in which thousands of people walk by every year. But despite being set in a gilded frame and hung on the wall with works by the famous French Impressionist, this Claude Monet painting will never be studied, photographed, or viewed by anyone again. Why? Because this painting exists underneath Monet’s 1872 masterpiece, Impressionist Sunrise.
It’s a well known fact that many of the great masters reused their canvases. Art Historians debate that this may have been because they were unsatisfied with the original painting and thought they could create something better. Perhaps the artists used the original for inspiration and as their skills and ideas evolved, the original became a starting off point for something new. And then sometimes, the painter may have been a true “starving artist” – being short on cash meant that any available surface was used and reused to create.
It is said that an artist will create not because they are asked or paid to do so, but because they must.
I remember when I was a new Christian. It was a foreign concept to live your life for someone else. I didn’t know how to pray. I didn’t know who Jesus was. I sure didn’t have a clue as to what my future held. And though I had a sincere desire to learn, being a Christian just didn’t come easy. Let’s be honest…
I still messed up.
I still experienced heartbreak.
I still found myself humbled and frustrated and fearful of life’s challenges.
I still had a lot to learn. (Oh and by the way, I still find myself stumbling through this learning phase.) And I desperately needed a Savior because despite being covered by grace, I was still ME.
Why is the concept of a reused canvas so powerful?
I had to learn that being a Christian didn’t mean I ceased in making mistakes. No, I am not immune to failure. But amazingly, salvation provided a fresh canvas for the rest of my life. The learning and the longing for a purpose were the paint and the Master was reusing an old canvas to make something new out of me. The old creation was being painted over with each stroke of His likeness. Each prayer became a new image, each experience a myriad of dancing colors. Each time I stepped out in faith, there was a new mark made upon the reused canvas of my life.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,he is a new creation.Old things have passed away,behold, all things have become new.”– 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
It doesn’t matter what the old image looked like; the new one will always cover the painted scars of the past. The colors of grace will take over and the new creation is what others will see. This verse defines us! This verse offers hope! This verse tells us who we are – that we are precious and wanted and created with a most skillful hand… I pray that when my feet step onto French soil someday, that I can go to the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris. I want to see this lovely painting. I want to study it. I want to take in the strokes and marvel at the genius of this creation. I want to know that there is an old version hidden somewhere underneath what I see and that if willing, the Master will take the old and refashion to new until a true masterpiece remains.
We are new.